Local passengers as well as tourists to Kuakata sea beach are suffering a lot due to poor ferry service at Labukhali terminal on Barisal-Kuakata road via Patuakhali.
Two out of three ferries on the route have remained dysfunctional for the last six months while the lone working one often requires repair, said sources at the terminal.
Passengers' sufferings mount when the ferry goes out of order on the middle of the river and floated away by tide. Vehicles get stranded on both sides on the river, making a large number of passengers wait for hours.
"On Monday noon, the ferry carrying 12 vehicles was coming to Patuakhali side from Barisal but when it reached the middle of about half-km wide river its engine went out of order and the boat was floated to Kanki area, about three-km in the west. After trying for about three hours, the engine became active and the ferry service resumed," said Abdullah Al Mamun, leaser of Lebukhali ferry ghat.
Again the next day, afternoon, the ferry service remained stopped for over an hour in the afternoon, he said.
Abdur Rashid Pada, a local businessman, said traffic jam has become a regular affair due to disturbance in ferry service on the route that serves as link with Kuakata sea beach and other parts of the country.
"I had to wait for two hours as the ferry got stranded at the Barisal end when its engine went out of order. If the situation continues tourists will lose their interest to visit Kuakata," said KM Enayet Hossain, a development worker in Patuakhali, who went to Barisal on Friday last.
Abdul Kuddus, supervisor of the ferry terminal, said, "When the engine goes out of order I inform the authority of the matter. Then engineers and mechanics come to the spot and repair it. Rise of the riverbed at the Barisal end is also responsible for disruption of ferry service as the ferry often gets struck on the alluvial land during the low tide. In such a situation, we have to wait for high tide for resumption of ferry service."
When contacted, Suvas Chandra Biswas, executive engineer for Ferry Division in Patuakhali, claimed that the ferry service on the route is okay.
"If any ferry goes out of order we repair it immediately. Every engine has to rest after 12 hours," he said.
Asked about the traffic jam, he said, "It is an artificial problem for which the lessee and a section of staff employed for maintenance of the ferry service are responsible."